May 17 (UPI) -- With the Investec Derby just two weeks away and Royal Ascot hot on its heels, the racing action is hot and heavy in England this week.
Japan's schedule features Sunday's Grade I Japanese Oaks. And in Hong Kong, preparations are under way for the final Group 1 event of the season.
Here's a look-see:
Telecaster took full advantage of two rivals who admittedly needed the race after training setbacks, winning Thursday's Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York by 1 length over the even-money favorite, Too Darn Hot. Surfman was another 4 lengths back in third and 3/4 length in front of the well-fancied Aidan O'Brien entry, Japan. Telecaster, with Oisin Murpy up for Hughie Morrison, got the extended 1 1/2 miles over good to firm ground in 2:10.42.
Telecaster, a New Approach colt, was unraced at 2, finished second on debut at Doncaster in March and proved a decisive winner in his second start last month at Windsor. Originally nominated to the Investec Derby, his spot was not renewed at the March 5 deadline and he now would require a sizeable supplement to run in the Epsom classic. His ownership team did not have a ready answer to that question, mentioning the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby as an option.
Too Darn Hot, once the hot Derby favorite, was making his first start since running his record to 4-for-4 in last fall's Darley Dewhurst Stakes. Trainer John Gosden said after Thursday's injury-delayed return the colt now will skip the Derby in favor of a cutback to 1 mile in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Japan, also delayed in returning to the races, after winning two at 2, still could be a Derby contender, said O'Brien, who has no shortage of that commodity.
Also Thursday at York:
Lah Ti Dar, the heavy favorite, got to the lead inside the half-mile pole in the Group 2 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Middleton Fillies' Stakes and just did hold off Rawdaa in the final strides, winning by a neck. Sun Maiden was third. Frankie Dettori piloted the winner for trainer John Gosden and owner Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Lah Ti Dar, a Dubawi filly, was having her first go since finishing third behind Magical and Coronet in the Group 1 Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes last Oct. 20.
Friday at York:
The highlight is the Group 2 Matchbook Yorkshire Cup where Stradivarius faces the likes of Ispolini and Southern France. Stradivarius, now 5, did not lose in four starts last season, starting with this event, and collected the bonus offered the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers Million.
Saturday at Newbury:
Fourteen go in the Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, a straight mile for 4-year-olds and up. The rather lukewarm favorite is Le Brevido, a 5-year-old son of Siyouni, trained by Aidan O'Brien with Ryan Moore up. He races in the red-and-white colors of HRH Prince Faisal Bin Khalid although Coolmore "lad" Michael Tabor is a co-owner. Plenty of other prospects are in this field, however.
For the first time in three years, Sunday's Grade 1 Yushun Himba, or Japanese Oaks, will be run without the winner of the Grade 1 Oka Sho or Japanese 1,000 Guineas.
Last year, Almond Eye captured this second leg of the Fillies' Triple Crown en route to international stardom. This year, the Oka Sho winner, Gran Alegria, eschewed the 2,400 meters of the Yushun Himba in favor of the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup, where she finished fifth.
That decision leaves the Yushun Himba with the second- and third-place finishers from the Oka Sho, Shigeru Pink Dia and Chrono Genesis, as well as last year's 2-year-old filly champion, Danon Fantasy (JPN). Chrono Genesis won twice last year at 1,800 meters but neither Danon Fantasy nor Shigeru Pink Dia has been tested beyond 1,600 meters.
With a full field in prospect and distance question for all, the race should be fun to watch. Past winners include Gentildonna in 2012, Buena Vista in 2009 and Cesario in 2005.
The final Group 1 race of the Hong Kong season attracted another international competitor this week with the addition of Happy Grin for the May 26 Standard Chartered Champions & Chater Cup at Sha Tin.
Happy Grin, trained by Junji Tanaka, finished seventh in the Grade 1 Japan Cup last fall, behind Almond Eye's record-breaking victory. He is slated to arrive in Hong Kong on Saturday.